What is a Chatbot?
All You Need to Know About Chatbots!
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What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a software that performs an automated task, such as answering FAQs or completing a workflow. Chatbots live online in chat platforms or on social media and usually improve over time by using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- There is confusion regarding what a chatbot is because there are various possible definitions for the term and there are many different use cases for bots. These factors influence what people perceive a chatbot to be.
- In simple terms, a chatbot is a software that can have conversations with humans. For example, a user could give instructions or ask a question to the bot and in return, the chatbot could perform a certain action or provide an answer.
What are the Different Types of Chatbots?
In order to understand what a chatbot is, it is important to know that there are three types :
Conversations with scripted chatbots follow predetermined paths only. To determine the next step in the conversation, the user has to choose between explicit options. These options can be presented in different ways (i.e., text, voice, touch response, etc.) depending on the features and design of the chatbot.
These chatbots accept more input from users because they use Artificial Intelligence (AI), which allows for more flexibility. They are capable of accepting free form input in the form of voice statements or text. Thanks to AI, these chatbots can improve through time the more that they are used (that’s why they are called ‘’intelligent’’ chatbots!). However, it’s important to know that their intelligence is limited. Even though AI works great in limited knowledge domains, or for one-off instructions, the bots have limitations. For example, it would be very difficult for these bots to understand context or use their ''memory'' to keep the conversation going.
Considering that both intelligent and scripted chatbots can have graphical user interfaces, application chatbots are not really a separate category of bots. Graphical interfaces are becoming an important concept for chatbot developers as they often allow users to perform the actions they need more efficiently.
Misconceptions Related to Chatbots
This definition however often leads to two potential misconceptions.
1. One of the biggest misconceptions is that chatbots are able to have conversations with humans in the same way that a human converses with another human. After all, imagining software or robots communicating with humans in natural language is not that difficult. Science fiction is full of examples. Chatbots are all about human interaction.
Even though this may be the ultimate goal, the current technology doesn’t make it possible yet. This misconception often leads to unrealistic expectations regarding what chatbots are capable of doing today today. As language processing technologie improve, we should expect more chatbot's work.
2. Another misconception is that chatbots are only able to communicate using voice or text. The reality is that chatbots also allow users to interact via graphical widgets or interfaces. Various chat platforms including Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Kik allow web views on which developers can customize graphical interfaces.
Use Cases for Chatbot Applications
Here are some examples of chatbot applications: As mentioned previously, there are many different uses for chatbots, which is why it can sometimes be difficult to define what they are in precise terms. You could actually find a use for chatbots in any business or industry, in the same way, that they use websites or apps. The possibilities are endless! Here are some examples of chatbot applications:
- A chatbot application that tracks customer or employee satisfaction using natural language processing.
- A chatbot application that helps users in their e-commerce purchasing process
- A chatbot application that provides customer service by answering questions and helping with tasks
- A chatbot application that helps customers book flights
- A chatbot application that allows customers to make orders online for takeaway restaurants
- Chatbots natural language processing capabilities can be used by retail stores to send promotions to their customers
- Marketing campaigns that ask users questions or allows them to play a game using a chatbot.
The examples above could also allow customer support agents to get involved in the conversation if needed. This could be a premium service offered by companies who wish to improve the customer experience.
How are Chatbots Different from Applications?
It’s easy to confuse chatbots and applications especially when chatbots interact via a user interface. However, chatbots are used inside chat applications and people’s interactions with the bot are more or less sequential (just like a conversation!)
Another difference is that ai chatbots, unlike apps, have an identity, which is actually separate from their interaction with users - the same way that real people or customer service agents exist independently of their interaction with customers.
In a nutshell, a chatbot is an innovative way for humans to interact with software. Even though there are overlaps regarding the functionalities offered by apps and websites, interacting with a chatbot is different than interacting with an app or a website.
It comes to no surprise that messaging platforms are becoming universal mobile apps or app portals considering that businesses are looking for new ways to deliver their services and messages where consumers are, which is on chat platforms. Chatbots allow businesses to achieve this!
Conversations are central to chatbots. Ai chatbot can have conversations with humans but they have limited capacities. However, that doesn’t mean that voice-based or text-based conversations can’t be as good or better than speaking with an actual human. In fact, chatbots offer advantages that human agents don’t. Indeed, chatbots are available 24/7 and they have access to various functionalities as well as a broad array of information. Plus, they can outperform humans in terms of accuracy and speed.
Chatbots can replace humans for specific tasks but they can also be used as virtual assistants to improve the service offered by human agents. For example, the chatbot can provide response options or relevant information to the human agent in a timely manner. The collaboration between bots and humans is easy to achieve when chatbots are used in communication channels.
Find out more about Conversational Artificial Intelligence.
Chatbots are integrated within chat platforms such as Slack, Facebook Messenger or SMS that each has its own features. The features of each platform determine the ways in which the chatbot can interact with users, groups or teams but the behavior of the chatbot is dictated by the bot.
For example, SMS and email bots can only show text and attach multimedia widgets. On the other hand, Facebook Messenger, Kik or Telegram Bot can interact with users using a range of different graphical widgets. Users of these platforms can also access web views, which basically allows for unlimited flexibility in terms of the user interface that can be offered to users.
Chatbots represent a great opportunity for businesses to reach customers where they already are, in the messaging apps. Chatbots allow businesses to deliver services in a highly personalized manner where the message, operations and human support can be combined in one experience.